Plant something new

Better produce and protecting food staples at the USDA.

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March 24, 1951 | Vol. 59 | No. 12        

Plant something new

The best home gardens this year will include a few of the new vegetable varieties along with the old favorites.

Radishes, beets and peppers will be pretty much the same old stand-bys; some of the beans, tomatoes, onions, and squash will be recent developments. In addition, many back-yard and vacant-lot gardens will have a vegetable or two not previously planted, such as endive, broccoli and kohlrabi.

New vegetable varieties for your garden are constantly being developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, state research stations and commercial seedsmen. Sometimes these are noteworthy because of their overall high quality or high productivity — these you will want to try. Sometimes they are tailor-made to lick some particular disease, or to grow specially well in certain climates or in certain soils — consider local conditions before planting these.

Tomatoes will be grown in almost every garden, be it large or small, in every state of the union. A number of good wilt-resistant varieties have been introduced within the past several years.

Snap beans are among the most profitable crops that can be grown in the small garden, being generally quite productive at one or more seasons of the year.

Sprouting broccoli, a comparatively new crop to American home gardens, is relatively easy to grow except during the hot summer months in the warmer parts of the country.

Endive is good as a fall salad plant for areas too warm for summer sowing of lettuce. A few dozen plants will keep a family well supplied with raw green stuff for weeks in the fall. —By Martha G. Marrow


UPDATE | February 11, 2012        

Veg developers still full of ideas

Tangerine Dream peppers are an edible ornamental variety developed by the U.S. Agricultural Research Service.

Green thumbs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture haven’t stopped rolling out new plant varieties. Recently, the gardener’s bounty has included a plethora of peppers that please the eye as well as the palate. The Black Pearl has dark shiny leaves and produces a spicy, red fruit, while the Tangerine Dream (a cross between a red pepper and a squash-type pepper) has a sweet taste. Lil’ Pumpkin and Pepper Jack add a kick to any dinner and Halloween hues to a fall floral arrangement.

For fruit lovers, the Gulfking and Gulfcrest peaches remain firm and spot-free even after handling. And large, aromatic Northeaster strawberries grow easily in light or heavy soils.

But scientists at the Agricultural Research Service, the USDA’s in-house research arm, do much more than encourage aspiring cultivators seeking some diversity. The majority of research focuses on global food staples, such as wheat and corn — how to grow the grains sustainably and how to overcome emerging pests.

One such menace is a fungus called wheat rust, which turns wheat stalks into black messes of broken stems (SN: 9/25/10, p. 22). Though the fungus had been under control for decades, a new strain recently swept through Africa, Asia and the Middle East, overcoming resistance bred into existing wheat varieties. Because the strain hasn’t yet invaded the United States, the USDA has created test nurseries in Kenya where researchers can see how well newly developed varieties fare against the fungus.

The more defensive plants may not end up in your backyard soil patch, but they’ll probably make it (in some form) to your breadbox or pantry. —Elizabeth Quill 

Credit:Stephen Ausmus/USDA ARS